God transcends, except when it doesn’t

Our friend Chris Hedges was on Point of Inquiry last week, and his performance is being discussed at the CFI forum. I couldn’t resist joining in a couple of times – the latest time because of one of those ‘science has nothing to say about god because god transcends nature’ arguments, or pseudo-arguments. Those always annoy me. I thought I would share.

I’m not seeing my error, I’m afraid. Christian dogma, at least, posits a god who exists outside of nature but who acts in time and space without inhabiting that time-space.

Yup uh huh sure. A god who exists outside of nature but can meddle with it any old which way but it still exists outside of nature because that way believers always get to say (and say and say and say) that science can’t inquire into this god because this god (so conveniently) exists outside of nature. That’s called having it both ways. Or in the vernacular, cheating. God is magic and special and Outside so science can’t investigate it, no no, go away; but on the other hand god answers prayers, sends hurricanes to punish the wicked, loves us all, hates the sin (but not the sinner), etc etc etc.

If (BIG if!) that’s true, then

a. how is this god at direct odds with science?…and
b. how would we ever use the tools for probing the physical world to investigate this mysterious god?

Big if indeed. Why should anyone think that is true? And notice how very convenient ‘b’ is. Doesn’t that convenience make you a little suspicious? If not it ought to.

Every time I hear one of the Big Atheists railing that God is antithetical to science, I scratch my head. I’m not arguing FOR a god—just that there can be no possibility of disproving something that exists outside of the only system we have. Not only can we neither prove nor disprove such a god’s existence, science itself has nothing to say on this subject.

Well there’s no possibility of disproving anything; disproof is much too high a standard – and the ‘Big Atheists’ of course know that perfectly well. ‘Antithetical to science’ doesn’t mean ‘capable of being disproven.’ Of course we can neither prove nor disprove such a god’s existence (and, again, the ‘Big Atheists’ know that). But as for science having nothing to say on the subject – well that depends on your acceptance of the bizarre and (as I said) suspiciously convenient idea that god is outside nature but active inside it. I would say that that’s just plain impossible, frankly. Either you are outside nature or you’re not; you can’t be both. If god is outside nature we know absolutely nothing about ‘it’ – whatever it is. We certainly don’t know that it’s called ‘god’ or whether or not it created the universe. We know nothing, so there’s little point in talking about it. There’s especially little point in talking about it in a dogmatic way. Christian ‘dogma’ about an inside-outside god that disappears when science is in the room and comes back when it’s time to frighten sinners – is a pathetic evasive joke.

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